Dec. 4, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top-ranked Alabama football team had four players selected to the 2008 AFCA Coaches' All-America Team it was announced on Thursday by the American Football Coaches Association.
Senior center Antoine Caldwell, junior nose guard Terrence Cody, senior free safety Rashad Johnson and junior left tackle Andre Smith were selected to the 25-man team. It marks just the fourth time in school history that four Tide players have earned first-team All-America honors in the same season (1964, 1966 and 1974). Alabama now has 96 All-Americans in its history.
"It is a special honor and I think I can speak for all four of us," Johnson said. "We are excited and it is truly a blessing. I want to thank all of our teammates because without their efforts we might have gone unnoticed. We just have to continue to work hard because we still have some goals left in front of us."
Alabama's heralded offensive line placed two players on the team - Caldwell and Smith - after they helped pave the way for the SEC's No. 2 rushing offense at 201.5 rushing yards per game and a 127.8 passing efficiency that ranked fourth in the SEC. Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) is a finalist for the Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award while Caldwell (Montgomery, Ala.) is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation's top center.
Johnson, a former walk-on from Sulligent, Ala., heads a Crimson Tide defense that ranks third nationally in total defense and fifth in pass efficiency defense. He leads the team with five interceptions - including two he returned for touchdowns - and is second in tackles with 73. His 16 passes defended (11 breakups) lead the SEC while his five interceptions are fourth.
Cody, a junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast and a native of Fort Myers, Fla., has made a huge impact in the middle of the Crimson Tide's defensive front. He has required double and triple teams from opposing offensive lines all season while accounting for 20 tackles and four tackles for loss. The Tide defensive ranks second nationally in rush defense (73.6 yards per game).
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best - the coaches themselves. The AFCA's Football Bowl Subdivision All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's nine FBS districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee.
The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts, that information, along with ballots submitted by FBS head coaches, are used to select the AFCA FBS Coaches' All-America Team.